Friday, February 13, 2009

Blade of the Immortal 12: In Which Manji Teaches

After Rin's recent harrowing experience with Araya, Manji teaches her a thing or two about swordsmanship and survival. Meanwhile, Rin's nemesis, Anotsu Kagehisa, secretly trains in the mountains, just a few steps away from where Rin and Manji are....
EPISODE 12: Nemesis of Rin
More Screencaps from Blade of the Immortal 12

Rin's recent encounter with Araya has her rethinking her path of revenge. Although the Ittou-ryuu as a group is responsible for her family's massacre, yet it is the group's leader, Anotsu Kagehisa, whom she considers her true enemy. Araya's death has taught Rin one thing: slaying more members of the Ittou-ryuu may only lead to a neverending cycle of revenge for families of those slain. It is at this point that Rin must have decided to focus all her efforts against Kagehisa himself.
Meanwhile, Magatsu, who is still recovering from his battle with Manji, is hanging out at O-Ren's place when he receives an unexpected visit from Kagehisa. Magatsu has already left the Ittou-ryuu, yet his loyalty to Kagehisa has remained. He advises Kagehisa to go to the mountains and practice his swordsmanship. Manji and Rin also arrive at the same solution. But instead of training Rin at a proper dojo, Manji decides to bring her back to his hometown. There Manji evaluates Rin's "Flight of the Golden Wasp" and points out its weakness: poor markmanship. Next, he tests Rin's skill with the katana but again she fails to impress him.
Later, while the two are resting, Manji tells her that swordsmanship has actually little to do with talent and everything to do with surviving. He says that in two years, he has killed over a hundred samurai and yet even someone with his experience has difficulty fighting an Ittou-ryuu member. His point is that Rin, whose claim to the sword was teaching beginners in her father's dojo the basic stances, has no chance against the Ittou-ryuu. Much later, Rin goes to the woods by herself to take a bath in the stream. However, a sound coming from somewhere nearby stops her and causes her to investigate its source instead. What she finds is a lone swordsman swinging an axe around. Upon closer look, she sees that the man is hitting every single falling leaf that comes his way. As Rin continues to watch him, the man suddenly turns and to Rin's horror, she discovers that he is none other than Anotsu Kagehisa.
Kagehisa has noticed her presence although he hasn't figured out her location. Rin takes advantage of this by attacking him with her "Flight of the Golden Wasp." However, out of twenty knives, only one of them actually hits Kagehisa. Desperate, Rin tries to grab the axe that Kagehisa was swinging around earlier. But to her surprise, the axe is too heavy for her to carry. Dismayed by this discovery, Rin decides to just make a run for it, but Kagehisa easily picks up his axe and throws it towards her, knocing her down. Kagehisa then grabs her but when he sees her face upclose for the first time he finally recognizes her as Asano's daughter.
Kagehisa ties up both of Rin's hands but does not kill her. Instead, he tells her that the move that she used is only good for surprising and distracting the enemy but that when she strikes, there is a point where she can't see the enemy. After this, Rin declares her frustration and demands to know what Kagehisa plans to do. But instead of giving her a straight answer, Kagehisa asks her what she would do, so Rin says that whatever he would do, dying would be better. At this Kagehisa turns on her in anger, demanding to know why samurai are always anxious to die. He wants to know if this is what it means by bushido. Rin says that she would not know since she is just a woman, not a samurai. Then, Kagehisa says that if that is so, why has she not begged for her life. He adds that if she gets out of this forest alive, it would mean she would still have another chance to kill him. This causes Rin to bring up how her own father was mercilessly killed by him only two years ago. But again Kagehisa refuses to respond to this.
After a while, Kagehisa picks up his axe again and resumes practicing. Rin comments that the axe is not as dexterous as the katana and asks why he prefers such a weapon. Kagehisa says that it is his way of honoring his grandfather, who was expelled from the Mutenichi-ryuu for using a foreign sword. Also, the axe allows him to use only the least amount of force to deal a powerful blow. Then he reveals that he killed Rin's father so his grandfather can rest in peace. He explains himself further by expositing about how Oda Nobunaga was able to defeat the cavalry of another great general with the use of firearms and how a famous founder of a sword school taught the art of using two swords in a swordfight. These men are the ones whom Kagehisa aspires to be.
After this, Kagehisa returns her knives but decides to let Rin live this time, and when Rin demands to know why, he answers that it is because she does not have the same look in her eyes as her father did. Meaning, she wants to defeat her enemy using whatever means possible. He adds that in fact Rin's "Flight of the Golden Wasp" uses a Chinese, therefore foreign, weapon so she is already in violation of the Mutenichi-ryuu teachings. Add to that her desire to be strong, he says that she is already halfway to becoming one of his people. While he is walking away, his back turned, Rin is faced with the dilemma of killing him at that instant to satisfy her thirst for vengeance or to maintain what little honor she has left. She opts for the latter and she collapses to the ground crying. Later that day, she returns to Manji's side. He remains asleep, unaware of the recent happenings.

The anticipated encounter between Rin and Kagehisa is understated but again very character-revealing. My thoughts are contained in the post above.